Preserve Your Facebook Timeline

Lessons from the Past about Facebook

Did you ever wonder “How do we know exactly what John Adams & Thomas Jefferson were thinking and why they made certain decisions?” You can ask this question of any person who lived and loved before the radio, film & computer age. But how is this possible? We have a very good insight into many of the people who came before us, during this pre-modern age for one reason only. They wrote a lot. And I mean a lot. Most educated people kept diaries and wrote back and forth to their loved ones, friends and colleges. Remember that there were no telephones, computers, video chatting software, mobile phones. It gets even worse for our friends from this “pre-modern” age! There was no Facebook and they could not even text! How did they survive and communicate? I will say this again, they wrote diaries and they wrote to each other on a regular basis.

The writings that have survived have provided their future generations with insight into what kind of human beings they were. However today we live in a digital age and writing letters to each other is quickly becoming a lost art. The closest thing to a “letter” these days is probably an email message.

Another way in which we communicate with each other is Facebook. If you think about it, Facebook is very much like a “public diary”. We note everything from the health of our family and ourselves to sports commentary, what television programs we are watching as well as discussing the music we enjoy. I believe that Facebook has become the 21st century version of the 19th century diary.

If you think of Facebook as a diary you may want to download a copy of it from time to time to preserve your “Facebook Timeline” locally. You may even want to print it annually and then place it in a nice binder of some sort.

Facebook offers the ability to “archive” or download a copy of your timeline. I recommend that if you are a regular user of Facebook you take the time to do this at least once a year. After all it’s your “modern diary”. Perhaps someday in the distant future when technology has crashed and civilization is rebuilding itself someone may stumble upon your printed Facebook timeline and learn just a little bit about you and why for example you believed “Pink Floyd” was SO much better a rock band then “Led Zeppelin”.

Steps to Download Your Facebook

1. Account Settings
2. At the bottom of the “General Account Settings” page select “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.
3. Select “Start My Archive”.
This download will take a while because it has to gather your photos, wall posts, messages and other information. The archive process will then ask you to verify your identify in order to make sure that it is YOU asking for the archived data.
4. You will receive a message that states an email will be “sent when your archive is ready to download”.
5. Then you will receive a message that states that the archive is “pending” and an email will be sent when it is ready.
6. You will receive an email stating that the “requested download” is ready from Facebook. A hyperlink will be included to access your archive.
7. When you click on the hyperlink you will be transported to Facebook where you will need to login.
8. Then you will be prompted to download the archive.
9. Save your archive and there you go, you have your own copy of your archived Facebook timelime.
You can also download an “Expanded Archive” which includes historic IP addresses that Facebook stores about your logins to Facebook.

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SkyDrive Gets a Facelift

Today Microsoft debuted a new theme to it’s excellent “SkyDrive” service. SkyDrive which competes with services like DropBox to store your files in the cloud has been making a lot of positive news recently and this upgrade is more goodness from Microsoft. Microsoft offers 25GB’s of free storage which is more then enough for most of us and it integrates nicely into Office 2013 and Windows 8. Both of these upcoming upgrades are also winning acclaim from many of us in the tech know. If you are looking for good safe and convenient online file storage check out Microsoft’s updated SkyDrive. The new theme for SkyDrive which debuted today is a glimpse into what is around the corner with Windows 8 and Office 2013.

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App of the Month – "WeReward"

In today’s economy one thing is for sure. There is very little “free money” out there. However I have found a new “app” that does just that. Absolutely free money can be earned by doing nothing more than doing what you do – and going where you go.

Izea’s “WeReward” rewards you with 10 or 25 cents per visit to the establishments you visit. All you need to do it open the app, check in at your establishment and snap a picture of yourself at the place of business you are visiting. You can transfer your cash to your Pay Pal account and then from there you can transfer it over to your checking or savings account. That’s it. It’s that simple. I have been using this app on my iphone for about 8 months and at one point I transferred almost $50.00 to my checking account!

The “WeReward” app which is available on both Iphone and Android devices can also be linked to your social media service for status updates.

Both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have recently recommended this app as well. Check out “WeReward” today and start earning a little free cash! You can learn more by visiting the “WeReward” website.

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Danger in the Cloud?

Anyone who regularly reads my blog is aware that when it comes to the cloud services I am all in, for the most part. This past month I actually setup a SkyDrive account and moved my files off the server and onto SkyDrive. I decided to do this as a live “test” of how this type of file storage solution works on a day-to-day basis. Here are a couple of things to be aware of before moving to the cloud for file storage.

Local Caching
All of these cloud file storage providers such as Google, Dropbox and Microsoft cache (or store) copies your files on the local hard drive of your computer (or computers) as well as hosting them in the cloud. So let’s say you have SkyDrive (or any of these services) and all of your files have been moved to their “cloud”. Then you download the provider’s “app” on your home pc, office pc and laptop. That means that all of your files are “cached” at all three locations, plus in “the cloud”. Wow! Could be your first thought. Because of this scenario all of your files are “backed up” in several locations, plus the cloud. This is basically true. Your files are in more locations than ever before and you can feel fairly comfortable that you will have access to them regardless of what disaster may befall any of your computers. However, there is one little problem that could arise from this situation, but we will get to that shortly.

Why do these “Cloud” Storage services locally store copies of your files on your computer?
I believe that there a two basic reasons for this.

One. It is more efficient to work on a file “locally” as compared to a file which is streaming while in use. The application you are using to work on the file such as Word or Excel simply performs better when working on a file locally stored.

Two. If you do not have access to the internet you still may need to work on files. By keeping local copies of your files you are not dependent on internet access. Even cloud service providers are aware of this and until the internet is available 100% of the time, caching files locally is the only solution.

Be aware that this caching situation is only occurring on computers. Tablets and smartphones will stream these files while you are accessing and editing them. The files are not stored on most mobile devices.

Danger in the Cloud?
I would not say danger actually. I just liked the headline and hoped it would keep your attention on this article. However there is one real concern to be aware of and this is why it is important to be mindful of how the cloud storage and caching solution works. Here is what happens when you store and then edit files in the “cloud”.

So let’s say as an example you want to work on an excel file. You (1) open the file on one of your computers and begin working on the file. (2) When you are done working on the file, you “save” it and close the application. Then (3) the cloud provider’s application syncs the file in the cloud so that the file in the cloud is up to date with your latest changes. Finally (4) any other computer that you have the application installed also completes this very same synchronization. This is all being done within seconds and without your involvement. Very cool and normally this is exactly what you want. However here is the danger, and sadly this happened to me today.

This morning I was working on a large excel document using Excel 2013. When my work was completed I saved my file and noticed that immediately Excel was “not responding” and obviously crashed (dwat!). The application eventually restarted on its own. I tried to open my Excel file that I had just worked on and received the horrible message, “corrupt file – cannot open”. My thought was “oh well, at least I have SkyDrive installed on 2 other computers, my laptop and office pc”. I checked those computers and the damaged and corrupted file had already been synced at both locations as well as in the cloud. The corrupted file was all there was for me! Ok, don’t panic because I was able to repair the file but that is a story for another day.

The point here is to be aware that if a file is damaged, moved or deleted this will occur everywhere within moments, usually seconds. That’s the danger you must be aware of when storing your files in the cloud. Because of this situation it is remains necessary to continue having a good sound backup solution in place to protect your most critical data.

I remain a big supporter of cloud based services in most cases. However like anything else, no solution is 100% safe. The best way to protect yourself is through awareness of both the benefits and limitations of any solution you choose to use in your organization and at home.

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Technology Training for August 9, 2012

A special thank you to everyone who attended today’s technology training. Below is the PowerPoint presentation. I was very happy that we were able to cover much more, such as previewing Windows 8, Office 13 and touching on Microsoft Skydrive.

Please email training ideas to me for our October 2012 classes.

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Microsoft Launches "Outlook.com"

Microsoft is preparing to retire it’s free email service Hotmail and replace it with a newer crisper one, simply named “Outlook.com”. Outlook.com has a very clean, simple look which is obviously a reflection of their impending move to Windows 8 and Office 2013. If you’re personal email account has been driving you crazy lately with spam and junk mail maybe it’s time to consider a new service. Also, because this service is less than a week old you may be able to get the email address you desire. For example I was able to register and obtain wmann@outlook.com. Within days I am sure that this simple email address would have been snatched up.

I recommend that if you are considering a change for your personal email check out Microsoft’s new free email service at outlook.com. Special Note to Microsoft 365 Users

If you are a current Microsoft 365 subscriber, which we are here at the Borough of West Chester you may be presented with an error message when opening the outlook.com webpage. If this happens to you, don’t panic. Simply delete the browsing cache in Internet Explorer and restart the browser and try again.

Organizing Your Personal Email
If you do this, you can begin to take control & organize your personal email account by simply visiting all of the websites and services you use on a regular basis and change your email address there. This will allow you to clean up your email account and reduce the amount of spam and junk mail probably cluttering you’re inbox.

Customizing Your Outlook.com
You will see that there is some advertising on the right side of the interface, however this can be reduced greatly by adding a preview pane to the right side of your inbox. Microsoft obviously made a decision that simpler is better with their new free email service. It is because of this that the customization options are minimal. Other than reading pane location and interface color there is not much your need to learn here.

Social Media Connectivity
You can connect your social media services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube to your account. This will allow you to “chat” with facebook friends and easily see “status updates” right from your email account.

Privacy Protection
Although you will notice advertisements on the right panel Microsoft states that your information is not used to display the advertisements. I am not so sure about this but time will tell.

Setting Up Outlook.com on Mobile Devices
Outlook.com can easily be setup on any mobile device using the “Hotmail” account selection. Simply enter your email address, password and you should be receiveing your email on your smartphone or tablet.

This service premiered only days ago, on July 31 so there will obviously be enhancements and improvements just around the corner. However I like what I see so far and recommend that anyone struggeling with an old junk filled personal email account give it a try.

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Leadership Lessons from Star Trek’s Captains

Ok this is not a tech article…. but it’s important regardless. Last week CBS Entertainment finally started releasing Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-Ray. There are 7 seasons so it will take a couple of years to get the entire series in high definition. It will be fun to watch the series in an entire new way but one thing is for sure. The lessons learned are the same.

I have been a big fan of Star Trek since my earliest memories. I remember as a child, even at an early age that while watching Star Trek I was intrigued by every moment of every episode. I was especially intrigued and impacted by everything that Kirk, Spock and McCoy ever said and how they acted towards each other. Even at a young age the manner in which the characters treated each other and how new aliens were introduced and respectfully handled blew my mind. Drama without disrespect.

Even today at my age, I feel that there are many things that one can take from Star Trek. Each Star Trek series presents ideals such as tolerance, kindness, empathy, leadership, teamwork and science to its stories.

This is the first in a series of articles to demonstrate the story telling greatness of the Star Trek franchise and what each and every one of us can learn from it.

The series always and consistently presented a lesson on leadership.

It is surely not easy to be captain of Star Trek Enterprise. You are required to be physically fit, possess knowledge of federation rules and you must be an excellent commander, motivator and tactician. You have to perform under pressure and often under very stressful conditions. You have to gather your team around and inspire them to work together to determine solutions to almost unsolvable (and often unbelievable) situations.

Captain James Kirk is an example here, although every Star Trek captain from Kirk through Archer are stunning examples of the best in leadership models. Captain Kirk always leads from the front. You would say ‘of course’. He is the protagonist. He has to. I agree. That is the job of the leader. He has to command from the front. Many times, Kirk was involved himself in say rescuing people from a planet, fighting tyrannical lords and putting himself in harm’s way. Of course he is helped by Spock and McCoy but they cannot match the wit and creativity of their commander.

Captain Kirk keeps his cool in adverse circumstances.

In most of the episodes, Captain Kirk and his team found themselves in most difficult circumstances. Kirk is sometimes trapped in situations, where there is no chance to escape. But he keeps his cool all the time and manages to get out of difficult situations. In the ‘Corbomite Maneuver”, when faced with ultimate extinction, he plays a trick on the enemy and manages to avoid destruction.

Captain Kirk treats his people with respect.

Kirk understands that each and every team member is important. Be it Sulu, Uhura or heavy weights such as Spock or McCoy. He listens to everyone’s suggestion and then applies his intuition and skills to find a solution.

Captain Kirk always stands up for his people.

He never lets his people down. The ship and its crew come before anything else, even before himself. He is always worried about the safety of his crew and their wellbeing. He acts as a great leader because he is able to empathize with the crew members. Captain Kirk takes immediate steps and decisions with his crew in mind. Because of this his crew never lets him down and they all work together as a team with the same unified objective in mind.

In one of my favorite episode “Balance of Terror”, the enterprise assails a Romulan ship which has a cloaking device. Working with his team and taking immediate decisions, he is able to decimate a deadly enemy which is more powerful. He makes calculated decisions on firing the weapons and trailing the ship. He adjusts his decisions from time to time and takes action as quickly as possible.

I could just as easily write an article about these same leadership traits and more about each of the other captains in the Star Trek franchise. All of them, from Kirk to Picard to Sisko, Janeway and Archer each who bring their own specific leadership skills to their position. However all of them at their most basic level rely on each of the above examples in how they lead their crews.

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Microsoft Expands the Cloud

Microsoft is betting on the cloud in a big way. For the past few years Microsoft has been offering email services in the cloud (software as a service or SaaS). First with “Exchange Online” then the more robust service “Microsoft 365” followed which offered more services such as Lync, Sharepoint and the ability to install their latest Office product on up to 5 computers for each subscriber. Microsoft is preparing to expand its influence in cloud computing. You can see this strategy simply by looking at their three newest products.

“SkyDrive”

SkyDrive is exactly what it sounds like. With SkyDrive you can store and access your files in Microsoft’s cloud service. Anyone can sign up for a SkyDrive account for free. Yes I said free. What do you get for free? 25GB’s of storage. That’s about 23 gigs more than the free 2 gigs of free storage than Dropbox currently offers. The price is exceptionally reasonable if you need more. $10/year buys you 20 more gigs, $25/year buys you 50 more gigs while $50/years brings you up an additional 100 gigs. You can sign up today at www.skydrive.live.com. Why would Microsoft offer so much free online storage? Well we will get to my opinion on that shortly.

“Windows 8”

Windows 8 is scheduled unofficially to enter the market around October 2012. For the past couple of months a “Consumer Preview” has been available and I have been using it on my home office pc and laptop. Although I was impressed with the early preview releases there was some clumsiness to it in respect to performance. However the latest preview is said to be nearly the finished product everyone will see this fall. The new interface is a huge leap away from what everyone has been accustomed to since Windows XP launched in 2001. The interface is tile designed. This can be somewhat cumbersome at first, especially for those not experienced with tablets. You see Microsoft is also betting that monitor technology will make the next leap as well and become the standard for computer users. Windows 8 is reportedly at its best with touch based monitors just like those we use today on our tablets and smartphones. Don’t be afraid because once you figure out how to use your mouse on Windows 8 you are fine. However it will probably be more natural with a touch screen. You can find touchscreen LCD monitors starting in the mid-$300 range so this move towards touch screen monitors will probably happen faster than the move from CRT to LCD. Microsoft will be releasing their own tablet in the near future as well, “Surface” and Windows 8 will be its platform. There is a “Desktop” option which does take the user back to a desktop that is similar to Windows 7. Microsoft realizes that the keyboard is not going away anytime soon as it will remain prominent with Microsoft Office products for writing, programming and designing applications. I see the touch screen ability to use gestures as the predominant way for internet surfing, gaming. This is not to be unexpected because this is how we already use tablets and smartphones. SkyDrive is built in to Windows 8 so access to your online files could not be easier. Your SkyDrive simply appears as another drive on your pc.

Microsoft Office 2013

This past weekend Microsoft also released a “Consumer Preview” of this product. I have been using this at three locations for a few days now. Just like Windows 8, SkyDrive is “built in” here and linked to each of the office products. Therefore right from Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Outlook you have immediate access to your online files. This is where the “free” and inexpensive storage from Microsoft makes sense. Although pricing has not been announced yet you can be assured Microsoft Office 2013™ will be pushed as a “subscriber service”. For a monthly fee of somewhere probably between $5 and $10 a month you will get access to all of the newest Microsoft Office products no matter where you are or what type of device you are using. Those of us already subscribing to Microsoft 365 will grasp this concept. However for others it may be a little more difficult to accept. The free SkyDrive storage and the easy access to your data will probably inspire more people and organizations to jump into the cloud with Microsoft.

My first impressions of the new office is….. “wow”. Unlike previous versions you simply download the application while logged into your Microsoft account and within moments you are using Office 2013. After linking the products (Word, Excel etc.) to your SkyDrive account you have immediate access to all of your online files. The files on SkyDrive are synced and also stored (locally) on any computer you use as well. Microsoft Office 2013™ also makes integration to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn extremely easy. Obviously Microsoft believes that social media is here to stay and in fact sites such as Facebook which were once for personal use are beginning to merge and be accepted in the work place.

Thanks to this integration of products in the cloud I was able to work on this article at my home office pc, on my IPAD and finally completed at my office pc. All in the cloud, seamless and effortlessly. Welcome to the cloud friends.

You can learn more about SkyDrive at www.skydrive.live.com.

You can try out Windows 8 at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview.

You can try out Office 2013 at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en.

Employees should not download and install the previews for Windows 8 and Office 2013 at the work place without the approval and guidance of the information technology staff.

I will preview these applications at the next technology training scheduled for August 9, 2012.

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July 2012 Newsletter Released

The July 2012 issue of the “Borough of West Chester – Employee’s Technology Newsletter” has been released. Included in this issue:

1. Technology Challanges in Local Government
2. Social Media & Local Government
3. Microsoft Releases Free Security Tool
4. What is Moore’s Law?
5. Newsletters, Tweets & Blogs
6. App of the Month – Zite
7. Shared Calendars … and more
You can download the newsletter by clicking here or the right menu bar of this fine blog.

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Microsoft\’s Cloud Expands

by QUENTIN HARDY, bits.blogs.nytimes.comJuly 16th 2012
Microsoft says face it: work is everywhere and you should get used to it.

Microsoft is probably going to have to get used to a few things itself, including how it much money it makes in this world.

On Monday the company showed off the next version of its Office product for documents and spreadsheets, as well as changes to its Outlook e-mail and calendar service. The products are now cloud based, which means that powerful computers access over the Internet enable customers to access products from anywhere, and the products remember where a customer left off using them. A document that’s being edited, for example, will open up at the last point in the text where a change was made.

In addition, Microsoft showed how these products tie into other Microsoft products, like Skype or the Yammer corporate collaboration service. Bing maps can pop up in email to show where an address is, and customers can make notes on the map.

“This is the biggest, most ambitious release of Office that we’ve ever done in our history,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Miocrosoft. Nowadays, he said, “people work in much more social and collaborative ways.”

The cloud does potentially tie together a number of Microsoft’s acquisitions, and things it has been working on, in an attractive way. Office was shown on tablets from Samsung running Windows 8. There was a demonstration of documents stored in SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud-based storage service, and opened up on a Windows 8 phone (which will be out in October.) There was a mock-up of a collaborative meeting that used a large high-definition video monitor from Perceptive Pixel, a company Microsoft bought last week.

What wasn’t clear was what any of this would cost, and how that would go over. All Mr. Ballmer said was “we have a lot of work to get the cost down.” The more he does, however, the more he may undermine the profitability of Office, Microsoft’s flagship product. Wall Street won’t like that. Microsoft could win in the cloud, but survival could be costly.

There was one other unintended note in the presentation: While the early demonstration supposedly focused on home use of the product, the stress was on being able to work from home. Brochures were redrawn, e-mails were attended to, people worked on projects near their kids. Even testimonials from customers flown in for the event underlined the world Microsoft sees.

“The neat part is, my office is now everywhere,” said Kim Grant, a mother and part-time lawyer from Houston. “I can get my work done from my daughter’s volleyball game.”

Say what you will, Microsoft understands, and shapes, the times we live in.

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